Pac-12 football this week: Conference growth is inevitable, coaches say

2011-09-07T00:01:00Z 2011-09-07T05:42:44Z Pac-12 football this week: Conference growth is inevitable, coaches sayPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 07, 2011 12:01 am  • 

For the past seven or eight years, Kyle Whittingham has felt college football moving in this direction.

Now, with the Pac-12 and other conferences perhaps on the brink of further expansion, the Utah coach finds it a matter of time.

"I think it's inevitable that there are going to be four super-conferences in Division I football with 16, maybe 18 teams in each conference," he said. "I don't see any way around that."

The structure would lead to a playoff system, he theorized.

But it could also marginalize just less than half the Div. I-A teams that do not find their way into a power conference.

The reasoning?

"Money," Whittingham said. "I think everything's driven by that.

"It's easier to slice a pie up 64 ways than it is to slice it 100-or-whatever ways."

The idea of a "super-conference" seems to be an eventuality, be it the Pac-12 or somewhere else.

Whether that means the Pac-12 is soon to add Oklahoma or Texas or other schools is another question.

Stanford coach David Shaw said he agreed with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' Monday declaration that a super-league seems to be "the way the world's going." From a financial standpoint, Shaw said, a larger league makes sense.

"I think the way the world is nowadays, not everything needs to be so regional, that we need to be in close proximity to each other in order to be in a conference," he said.

The key, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said, is for the Pac-12 to not be standing still when the musical chairs stop.

"I think it's prudent," he said. "I don't know if it's really happening.

"As this thing gets divided up, it's better to be a 'have' than a 'have not.'

"I think (commissioner) Larry Scott has proven he's wily in these affairs."

Scott scored a $3 billion media deal this summer after announcing the addition of Utah and Colorado a year earlier.

That earned the confidence of his league's coaches.

Oregon State's Mike Riley said that he thought Scott "would know way more about what teams would impact us" than Riley would. Riley was surprised by the timing, given that the football season had just begun.

"We've got two great additions to the conference," he said. "I really don't know what more would do."

Cal's Jeff Tedford said further expansion "seemed like a pretty good concept" the first time it was suggested in 2010.

"I thought, at the time, it would be pretty exciting to have, kind of, the megaconference," he said.

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